Saturday, March 16, 2013

Madhulika Liddle - My Lawfully Wedded Husband and other Stories

I love short stories. Flip over 5-10-20 pages and the story is done.  It usually deals with one aspect of the life of its protagonists, so the reader does not have to remember a lot.  On the other hand, just as you have gotten into a story and the character, it is done with.  It is difficult sometime to turn to another story immediately, as you are still 'into' the first one.  Hence, I find it difficult to get through books of short stories at a stretch.  They usually lie on my 'unread' pile on the bookshelf, to be picked up when the fancy takes me.

My Lawfully Wedded Husband is a collection of 12 stories.  They are mostly funny/scary/dark and sometimes, all three combined.

1. Sum Total - A young woman goes on a killing spree when she finds herself pushed to the limits by people around her. 

2. A Tale of a Summer Vacation - A young girl happens to be visiting her grandmother in Goa when an incident takes place with a neighbor.  There are some secrets that only time can unlock.

3. A Brief Lesson in Trust - Two childhood friends find themselves face to face again after many years.  Surely an old friend can be trusted to help you out when you are in a bad spot.

4.  Feet of Clay - There are many people who seem harmless, but are not.

5.  My Lawfully Wedded Husband - Boring people can be safe to be with, some times.  Maybe it is not a good idea to be scornful about people who are staid on the outside.

6. Number 63 - Sometimes it helps to be a nosey neighbor.

7. On the Night Train - There is a nice tip in here that can help you get a good night's sleep on a train.

8. Hourie - A grim look at the happenings inside a whorehouse.

9. Silent Fear - A scary office tale.

10. St. George and the Dragon - This is what happens in a government office when a frustrated PA decides to act against his boss.

11. The Crusader - How many times have we gone to see a movie and felt unhappy about people who don't allow us to watch it peacefully.

12. The Howling Waves of Tranquebar - Even a tiny place like Tranquebar can have an exotic story behind it.

Madhulika's prose is elegant and simple.  The stories often have a twist in the end, some skilful and some predictable.  In case of St. George and the Dragon, I liked the story a lot.  It was a very genuine portrait of a government office.  But I felt the end was a bit too drastic.  Silent Fear was a bit unsubstantial.   Apart from these little things, all the stories are immensely likeable.

The last one in the collection, The Howling Waves of Tranquebar is exceptional.  It is going to rank among the best short stories I have ever read.


Raja Swaminathan said...

Thanks for this review, Ava. I'm about halfway through this book and have thoroughly enjoyed it so far. Looks like I've still got some enjoyable stories to look forward to. I just love short stories.

Anonymous said...

I enjoyed all the stories there. Thez helped me go through the flights Bobmay-Mangalore, Hyderabad-Chennai and then Chennai-Bombay.
What I loved about the stories, that they also bind in social evils, which plague the society and mostly the underdog has the centra-stage.
Good review!

Ava Suri said...

Raja: I like short stories too, but find it hard to read them at a stretch.

Harv: This is perfect to read on a flight. Don't worry, by the time you fly to Chd, Madhu will have written a new book for you to read.

Carole said...

Ava, I must try to read more short stories - I generally find them a little unsatisfying somehow. Have a great week.

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